With the Falkirk Wheel opening, the Bell Lawrie Scottish Series 2002, and the ever-popular Classic Malts Cruise, this is a signal year for Scottish marine leisure

This is a big year for the Scottish marine leisure industry. The sector has already brought in a great deal of badly-needed investment and looks sets to bring in a good deal more. The potential revenue is so important to Scotland’s boating industry that Sail Scotland has invested ‘360,000 in their ‘Welcome Ashore’ training program for marine leisure land-based staff. The prospect of having a great day’s cruising wrecked by ham-fisted treatment at the marina will soon be a thing of the past in Scotland.

Although the first ceremonial spin of the Falkirk Wheel took place last November, the Queen’s official opening of this incredible structure, scheduled for the end of May, promises to be one of the high points of the Scottish marine leisure calendar. The Falkirk Wheel is a hi-tech rotating lock structure that replaces a series of eleven locks that used to take an entire day to traverse. After its official opening, the Wheel will connect the Forth & Clyde and Union Canals which, together with the Caledonian Canal, form a picturesque circuit around some of the most impressive scenery in Britain.

After the Falkirk Wheel starts turning, you can spend a couple of days touring Scotland’s purple hills before heading to Tarbert on 30 May for the Bell Lawrie Scottish Series 2002. The class rules have been slackened a little to allow non-one design entries to participate in races have until now been closed to them. The long overnight race has also received a makeover which means that, if conditions demand, the course can be shortened at a number of points.

Another major attraction for the spiritually-minded is the Classic Malts Cruise. This is a relaxing, ‘unstructured’ 200-mile cruise around the Inner Hebrides, home to three of the most distinguished single malt distilleries in Scotland: Oban, Lagavulin and Talisker. ‘From the peat-carpeted Islay to the rugged Isle of Skye’, says the brochure, you will enjoy placid anchorages in rough hewn coves and burning sunsets while sipping on some of the finest whiskies known to man.